Following his award success in London last year with Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tom Stoppard is today the toast of Broadway with no fewer than ten nominations for The Coast of Utopia, including Best Play, in this year’s 61st annual Tony Awards. In the nominations, announced today in New York, Stoppard’s trilogy comes second only to the new American musical Spring Awakening with eleven nods. Other London-originated productions - Mary Poppins, Coram Boy, Journey’s End, Frost/Nixon and A Moon for the Misbegotten - also figure heavily, as do British artists across the board.

John Doyle, who won last year’s Tony for Best Direction of a Musical for the UK transfer of Sweeney Todd, is nominated again in the same category, for the Broadway-originated revival of another Sondheim classic, Company, which he’s once again given his trademark actor-musician treatment. (The production is also up for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for American Raul Esparza.)

In the race for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play, three out of five contenders are British: Eve Best for the Old Vic production of A Moon for the Misbegotten (its only nomination), Vanessa Redgrave for The Year of Magical Thinking directed by David Hare and London-born Angela Lansbury for Deuce. There are also three British nominees, in a field of only four, for Best Direction of a Play: Donmar Warehouse artistic director Michael Grandage for Frost/Nixon, David Grindley for Journey’s End and Melly Still for the National Theatre production of Coram Boy. The fourth Best Director competitor is Jack O'Brien for The Coast of Utopia.

Stoppard’s trilogy – comprising Voyage, Shipwreck and Salvage and spanning 33 years of 19th-century Russian history - premiered at the National in August 2002 in a production directed by then NT artistic director Trevor Nunn. While applauded for its scale, it was largely ignored in that year’s round of UK theatre awards (though it did receive several nods, including Theatre Event of the Year, in the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards) so the epic drama’s Tony nods will, no doubt, be seen as a welcome validation by many.

In addition to Best Play, Lincoln Center’s new Broadway presentation of The Coast of Utopia sees head-to-head acting contests for many of its stars – Americans Billy Crudup versus Ethan Hawke for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play and Briton Jennifer Ehle versus Martha Plimpton for Featured Actress – as well as nominations for design, costumes and lighting.

The biggest British contender in the musicals stakes is Mary Poppins, the Cameron Mackintosh and Disney premiere, still running at the West End’s Prince Edward Theatre, with a total of seven nominations including: Best Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for original West End star Gavin Lee, Best Choreography for Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear, and Best Scenic and Costume Design, both by Irish-born Bob Crowley (adding to his joint Best Scenic Design in a Play nomination – with Scott Pask – for The Coast of Utopia).

Elsewhere amongst UK play transfers, Coram Boy and Journey’s End both clock up six nominations apiece, several for members of their US casts. For Coram Boy, Helen Edmundson’s adaptation of Jamila Gavin’s children’s book which premiered at the NT in December 2005, director Melly Still personally received two more nods, for Best Scenic and Costume Design (jointly with Ti Green), while Paule Constable is nominated for Best Lighting. And, in addition to David Grindley’s inclusion for Best Direction, Journey’s End - first seen in the West End in January 2004 to mark the 75th anniversary of RC Sheriff’s First World War drama - is nominated for Best Revival and Best Scenic Design (Jonathan Fensom) of a Play.

Meanwhile, Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon, premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in August 2006, rounds out its three Tony nods with another Best Play nomination and a Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play nomination for the production’s original American star Frank Langella, who plays Richard Nixon. Two notable omissions in the same category were Langella’s co-star Michael Sheen, lauded in the UK, and Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey, who received his second consecutive Best Actor prize in the Whatsonstage.com Awards for A Moon for the Misbegotten at the Old Vic.

The 61st Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards will be announced in a star-studded ceremony held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on 10 June 2007.

- by Terri Paddock